Bashir Manzar

Geelani quits but questions remain

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Instead of writing to the constituents of his All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Geelani owes an explanation to the people of Kashmir.

In a surprising development, Syed Ali Shah Geelani has resigned from All Parties Hurriyat Conference, which he had carved out from a similarly named ‘parent’ grouping in 2003; he later went on to become its life-long chairman. Geelani’s audio clip and a two page letter, written to the constituents of the conglomerate, announcing his resignation was circulated via social media. The development has generated a debate in political and social circles of Kashmir.

Syed Ali Geelani, originally a member of Jamaat-e-Islami represented his party in All Parties Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Following 2002 Assembly elections, Geelani quit the conglomerate accusing one of the constituents, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference, headed by Sajad Lone, of fielding proxy candidates during the election. He wanted Mirwaiz to act against the “erring party” and expel Sajad Lone which Mirwaiz declined to do.

It was then that the pro-Pakistan Geelani, with the help of Jamaat-e-Islami floated his own version of All Parties Hurriyat Conference and became its life-long chairman.

In a letter, addressed to the constituents of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Geelani has accused the representatives of the conglomerate, based in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK), of nepotism and corruption and regrets that members based in Kashmir Valley too have sided with those elements.

If sources within the conglomerate are to be believed, the squabbling within Geelani-headed All Parties Hurriyat Conference has been going on from quite some time. The basic reason behind the bickering being “the money”. Geelani also hints at this in his letter as he writes, “A lots of complaints have surfaced against the members of the forum (APHC-PaK) which include adjusting members of their own families in assembly and ministries, … financial irregularities.”

Another reason behind Geelani’s decision seems that he somewhere feels falling from the favour of Pakistan. Geelani’s has been the staunchest pro-Pakistan voice in Kashmir. He has been insisting that Kashmir should become part of Pakistan as he calls the dispute as “unfinished agenda of partition.” For this politics (read his), he has all along been a darling of Pakistan establishment, both military as well civilian. For a brief period during General Pervez Musharaf’s regime, Geelani was sidelined but there was always a strong lobby within ISI which backed him.

Now that members of his own conglomerate based in PaK have, as per his own letter, revolted against his leadership is a clear indicator that the nonagenarian has fallen from grace. Had it not been so, how some minions could dare to revolt against the one who, till other day, was the Qaid-e-Hurriyat for Pakistani media and was referred to as “living legend” by former Pakistan diplomats like Abdul Basit.

By resigning from Hurriyat, Geelani has tried to expose corruption and malpractices within the amalgam while trying to give his own person a clean chit. This exposé raises a bigger question. By his own admission, as per his letter, such practices have been in vogue for long “particularly from past two years”. Then, why did it take Geelani so long to react? If he was in know of things, which he admits he was, why didn’t he act then and there? Was it because Pakistan would satiate his ego by recognizing him as the “sole leader of pro-Pakistan movement” – so he chose to shut his eyes to the corruption happening under his nose?

Geelani always did Pakistan’s bidding. He didn’t hesitate in sacrificing the interests of Kashmiris for the sake of Pakistan. Talk of secularism was a sin for him; talk of autonomy equally sinister; talk of self-rule evil; of economic concerns of Kashmiris treason; educational concerns disloyalty to the movement.

The only slogan he approved was “Geelani Wali Azadi” which meant “Kashmir Banay Ga Pakistan.” Now that the same Pakistan has dumped him, he talks of corruption within a conglomerate that was conceived, manufactured and run by him!

Instead of writing to the constituents of his All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Geelani owes an explanation to the people of Kashmir. Geelani’s post-1990 politics has made Kashmiris suffer. Thousands have lost their lives, properties have been destroyed, economy and education have been shattered, all because Geelani had a dream of making Kashmir part of Pakistan.

And it was his politics that reduced Kashmir and Kashmiris to nothingness. Article 370, any mention of which was a sin in the eyes of Geelani, has been abrogated; state of Jammu and Kashmir has been bifurcated and reduced to two Union Territories (glorified municipalities). He made people to chase ‘his’ (Geelani’s) dream and during this chase Kashmiris lost everything that they had.

Somebody will ask him that what his brand of politics has achieved except an army of orphans and destitute. His ‘hartal’ politics has destroyed the economy of people here and has resulted into massive academic losses. Kashmiris may not have many expectations from the government regarding its ability to empathise with the pain of the people. But what about the leaders like Geelani? Hasn’t he been glamorising stone-pelting and other forms of violence as well? Hasn’t he been encouraging the children of the poor to die while his own kith and kin would get better education and lucrative jobs?

Claiming to be a leader by holding to the crutches of external forces is one thing, being a leader in real sense something entirely different. Now that the crutches have been pulled away, let Geelani prove himself a true leader by owning that his brand of politics has, instead of helping Kashmiris, added to their troubles and miseries. Such a move from him would set a healthy precedent and will ensure that future leaders tread cautiously without compromising peoples’ well-being, and undermining their interests for the sake of one’s own.

One can look at this latest development in any which way one may choose to, but doing away with the clutter of complex political analyses, the simple inference is that Geelani has all along been a victim of “misguided moralism”. And what is really unfortunate is that the people of Kashmir have had to pay a very huge price for the choices Geelani articulated and made on their behalf.

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